I’ve been thinking a lot lately about business burnout and how to recover from it.
There are two reasons I’ve been thinking about burnout:
1) I’ve been hired to speak about that topic at a pet business conference in Virginia in September (more details to come soon)
2) Many of my coaching clients have been ultra stressed this week and saying things on our coaching calls like:
“The texting and calling from pain-in-the-butt clients at two in the morning is driving me crazy!” and “That high maintenance client I told you about 3 months ago? She’s getting worse…she’s more and more demanding. I can’t take it anymore!”
Many of us caretaker types are drawn to start pet businesses out of a sincere desire to provide quality care for pets and their people. This is a good thing.
The ability and desire to take good care of other beings is something that pet owners can feel when they meet many pet business owners. They want their pet care provider to be an exceptional caretaker.
However…the caretaking quality in many business owners (is this you?) can also lead to an inability to say no to demanding clients and to not set boundaries where they need to be set.
I encourage you to think of your unruly clients like dogs who are in need of a good, tough love training session.
I have a friend who has two dogs that pee all over the house and hump my leg when I come over.
I love dogs. More than words on a page can ever express.
But you’d never know I love dogs if you were to see me at her house. I’m going to be straight with you here: I don’t want to be around her dogs. If I never saw them again, I’d be thrilled.
These dogs (no longer puppies but you’d never know it by their behavior) have never been told NO.
And because of that, no one (including me) wants to accept my friend’s dinner invitations because: every room in her house smells like dog urine, the house is a mess from the dogs gnawing everything in sight and the dogs (drum roll) hump your leg while you are sitting at the dinner table. Ah, now that’s appetizing, eh? Not really.
Difficult clients (like difficult dogs) need tough love and training and the N word. And guess what? Caretaker types have a hard time with tough love, training and the word no.
So this is, in some ways, a match made in Hell.
Caretaker types think being soft is the answer. But it’s not. Not with Difficult Clients. If you are soft with Difficult Clients they will take every ounce of your life energy and then beg for more. You have to be strong.
95% of your life energy can quickly become consumed with those 5% of clients that are difficult and demanding. And then you’ll have nothing left over for the vast majority of your clients who are easy and well-trained in the art of being a Good Client.
So…some of the steps to recovering from business burnout require becoming better at:
- Saying No. Practice by yourself in the car or with your dog if you need to: “I’m sorry, I’m not able to…”
- Be willing to let those Difficult Clients go. I know. You are scared about letting the money go but don’t worry: more Good Clients will come along to fill the void because of a law of physics: nature abhors a vacuum. I believe we also get rewarded when we are courageous enough to take good care of ourselves in spite of the fear of letting go of money.
- Set boundaries. (In a short and sweet way, without apology.) Send out an email to your clients: “Dear Clients, Due to not receiving some of your texts we are no longer accepting texts as a form of communication from you as we want to be sure that we receive your communication. Please contact us by phone or email only from now on. Thanks and have a good day.”
I’ll be writing more about this subject in future blog posts. Stay tuned!